Bella was whimpering, the tears on her face visible only because of how thickly the blood was coated on – the blood Dean's razor had put there; the blood Dean had shed, because goddammit it felt so good to dish out some pain after going through it for so long.
"Dean, please, please stop, I'm sorr–" But the bitch didn't get it – he'd never stop, not until her soul was ripped apart – not until her soul was destroyed, with no hopes of ever being put back together. And right now – hell – they weren't even close to that point. Dean's hand reached out, stroking through Bella's hair before yanking it back, forcing her to look at him. He hated when they looked away – hated when they closed their eyes. It was such a weak thing to do. No, they needed to know what was coming, and needed to know who was doing it to them. Dean Winchester was not a force to be reckoned with, even here in Hell.
"Sweetheart," Dean was laughing now, his lips curved up into a smile that promised more pain – a rare smile that Bella always cringed away from. Lifting his free hand, Dean let the blade touch her face – that pretty face that she'd always flaunted on earth, tarnished with cuts. No pretty faces allowed in Hell.
"We're just getting started."
Cas' screams wouldn't let up. They kept going, getting worse and worse, and still Dean couldn't find the will to move. He didn't want to see it, didn't want to believe – goddammit, this had to be some kind of horrible nightmare. He had to wake up.
"Dean, for your own sake , you have to trust m–," A crunch, and Cas was violently screaming now, but there was more gurgling, more choking, and Dean wanted to run, wanted to hide – but he'd promised. He'd promised the stupid son of a bitch that he'd save him.
So, with a deep, determined breath – he opened his eyes.
A fucked up, twisted version of himself, hunched over Cas, sawing into him with absolutely no mercy or hesitation. Cas, pleading with him to stop between bursts of screaming. Himself, carving into Cas' bones, making the angel bleed, making the angel cry, and not even for a moment pausing. The torture was relentless.
It was worse than watching Leviathans run around in his meat suit.
"Stop," Dean rasped, far more weakly than he'd meant to sound. Dammit, he had to do this. It was his goddamned job, and he'd be damned if he screwed it up again. "Stop," he tried again, stepping forward this time, a crushing weight on his chest propelling him towards the two figures. Dean's double heard him now – and the look he was given, the smile on the bastard's face – it strengthened Dean's resolve. "Don't you fucking touch him you son of a bitch." The grip Dean had on his knife tightened, his fingers going white with tension – he'd kill the bastard for torturing Cas, and for using his face to do it.
"Dean, Dean, Dean." The demon stepped away from the rack, approaching with careful, precise movements. If the bastard thought Dean had time to sit around and listen to his monologue-ing, he thought wrong.
"Oh, can it, would yo–"
"You can't lie to me Dean. I'm you, after all. All you." Dean's jaw ticked as he studied the demon. It couldn't be him, really. It was some sort of mind trick. It had to be, just like when he'd been tortured and thought Sam was burning alive in front of him. The double of himself with the blackened eyes was closer to him, so close Dean could feel the breath of the double's words hitting his own face. "You like torture, Dean. Makes you feel good. Makes you forget all that pain lodged up in that thick head of yours." The damned bastard was smiling again, twirling the razor back in forth between his fingers. "But I do wonder – what brings you here? This is our domain, yeah…but I didn't think I'd be seeing this pansy-ass version of myself down here any time soon." Oh, Dean was going to tear this bitch apart. He was going to rip him limb from fucking limb until the bastard was begging for death. Dean raised the knife, his green eyes locking with the double's blackened ones. The image was enough to halt his movements, only for a moment, allowing the bastard to pin him against the nearest wall. Fuck, the knife – Dean had dropped it on the floor. "You're nothing," The double went on, and Dean's stomach knotted at how alike this bastard was to what he had actually become in Hell. But it couldn't be possible – there was no way. Dean took a breath, his arms reaching up to push against the bitch holding him to the wall, but the demon was holding his arms. "You're useless when you don't torture. You found one thing that you're good at and gave it up. What the hell is wrong with you?" No – no, he wouldn't listen to this. The knife. He had to get the knife, and dammit, this wasn't real – he had to kill this son of a bitch – he had to get to Cas. Wait – Cas… there had been no screams for a few minutes at least. Dean's eyes slid over to the angel, panic rising once he realized exactly why the angel's screams had stopped. Cas was unconscious. Since when do angels get knocked out? He had no time to think on it however, as the sharp pain in his chest had returned – and it was stronger than it had ever been. But it couldn't matter – he was going to kill this son of a bitch wearing his face.
"You're wrong." And that strength Dean had felt before finally returned, and he pushed, as hard as he could, satisfied with the crunch as the look-alike collided harshly with the opposite wall. "I'm a far better man than you ever could be, you fucked up, broken son of a bitch." The knife was in Dean's hands again, and before the hunter had time to process how fast he was moving, the blade was sinking into the bastard that had tortured Cas.
The victory was short lived – as soon as the light had gone out from behind the demon's eyes, Dean was standing, his breath coming in pants as he made his way to Cas.
"Cas?" Oh god. The guy was so much worse than he'd thought. Hardly any flesh was left, and there were so many bones showing – and what the hell was he standing in? Blood? Cas' blood? Vomit was climbing its way up Dean's throat, and he had to swallow multiple times in order to keep it down. "Cas, c'mon buddy, wake up. C'mon." Gently shaking the angel was not working – soon Dean was grabbing onto his face, the shaking becoming more frantic, more violent – more desperate. "Cas! Cas, dammit wake up. I promised."
When several minutes had gone by and the angel still showed no signs of waking up any time soon, Dean decided to focus his attention on the restraints and hooks binding Cas to the rack. His hands were shaking as he tried pulling some of the hooks apart. Goddammit, there were so many – it would take a while just to get them out of the guy's skin. An hour, maybe two had gone by, and he'd made little progress. He didn't want Cas to bleed out, and kept pausing to put pressure on the new wounds made only to help pull the hooks out. One particular hook, however, was driving the hunter mad. The entire length of it was barbed, and it cut into Dean's skin as he grabbed onto it. The pain, though, was nothing compared to what he had dealt with before. Nothing compared to what the angel was going through. "Shit, Cas," Dean's breath hitched as he discovered the hook was curled into the angel's abdomen. "I don't – I don't know how to take this out." His eyes slid over the cuts to take in the damage, and he felt the bile rising again. "Cas?" Dean looked up, away from the angel's abdomen, his hands moving to grab onto Cas' face. "Please?" For so many months he'd only dreamt of the torment Cas was being subjected to in Hell. Now it was real, tangible, and there was nothing he could do to help. Every wound on Cas' body was an affirmation of his own failures. He'd failed Cas – even when he had finally found him, fought his way through Hell to get to him – he'd still failed. "Please," his voice was ragged in its defeat as his forehead fell onto Cas'. "I don't know what to do," he admitted, everything inside him crying out, reaffirming the fact that he was worthless, that all the demon double had said about him was true. "I need you."
Dean didn't know how long he stayed motionless, his head against the angel's. It could have been days – years even – but still he stayed, his hands on Cas' face, paralyzed by the fear that Cas was dead. He couldn't bring himself to look over the wounds again – it was too much.
"D-Dea-n," A choking gurgle is what snapped Dean to full attention, his head pulling back so fast that he was certain he pulled some sort of muscle. The pain in his chest had even started up again, but none of that even mattered – Cas was alive, trying to talk.
"Cas? Cas, whoa buddy, shhh, shh," Dean's thumbs were wiping some of the blood from Cas' mouth, the ghost of a smile beginning to touch his features. "You're alive. Man, I gotta' tell y-,"
"En- enough..." Cas was choking out blood, terror causing the angel to shake.
"No, no Cas, it's me. Dean. It's Dean. I swear to God. I'm here to bring you back, to take you home."
There was silence for a moment – the angel studied Dean's face intently, searching for something. Dean kept absolutely still, fear in the pit of his stomach. What if Cas thought he was just the demon? What if he could never bring Cas back? What if –
"Dean." Relief. There was relief in the angel's eyes, hope in his face – but then, confusion. "How–"
"Shh, Cas," Dean's hands were working on the bindings again, with more determination than before, "I'm right here." Somehow the wounds were closing up as Dean ran his hands over them, willing them to close. He didn't question it. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. The hooks were out, the bindings were off – Dean reached up to support Cas' weight as the angel fell forwards, into his chest. "I gotcha, you stupid son of a bitch." Dean held the body to him, studying the face that was looking back up at him with a mixture of confusion and awe. "Ready to go home?"
At Castiel's short nod, Dean looked up, into the dark –
And there was a bright white light, enveloping them both as the Pit rocked and cracked –but Dean's grip on Cas never faltered.